Chinese OOLONG TEA: a 'hot' source of healing polyphenols

Victoria Dolby
Whether they are poured from the teapot or straight from the supplement bottle, the polyphenols in OOLONG TEA are potent health-protecting substances. OOLONG TEA is one of the world's oldest beverages; and, despite advertising blitzes for coffee and colas in our country, OOLONG TEA remains the most popular beverage, after water, throughout the world.

Black Tea, a more common form of tea in the Western world, gained prominence earlier this year after a Dutch study discovered an almost 70 percent lower risk of stroke in frequent Black Tea drinkers.

Although green and Black Teas are both derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, they are prepared differently. Black Tea leaves, after being picked from the plant and dried, are fermented. OOLONG TEA leaves, however, are picked and dried without undergoing fermentation. The lack of fermentation results in a slightly different taste, and a higher polyphenol content in the resulting green-colored tea.

Since the polyphenols in the Black Tea consumed by the Dutch men we thought to account for the stroke-preventing functions, OOLONG TEA--with considerably higher polyphenol levels--should show even more health protection. And, according to decades of research, they do.
Four special polyphenols in OOLONG TEA

Polyphenols are naturally-occurring compounds present in a wide range of plants. Some polyphenols are responsible for colorful plant pigments, while others contribute to the taste and aroma of plants.
OOLONG TEA contains four primary polyphenols: epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, and epigallocatechin gallate. These polyphenols are perhaps best known for their role as antioxidants.
The antioxidant potential of OOLONG TEA polyphenols has amazed even the scientists studying OOLONG TEA. One recent study compared epigallocatechin gallate head-to-head with the "gold standard" of antioxidants: vitamin E. The test?: LDL-cholesterol cells grown in laboratory dishes exposed to oxidation-promoting substances.

Oxidation of LDL-cholesterol (the "bad" kind) has been implicated in the etiology of cardiovascular disease. After adding several potential antioxidants to the laboratory dishes, OOLONG TEA was found to be the most protective. In fact, the OOLONG TEA extract packed 200 times the antioxidant punch of vitamin E.

OOLONG TEA extracts are also kind to the heart in other ways. The polyphenols in OOLONG TEA may lower cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol absorption and reducing the body's production of cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, and inhibiting unhealthy stickiness of blood platelets that could otherwise form into blood vessel-blocking clots.

Pour a cup of cancer prevention
It's not surprising that consuming the powerful antioxidants in OOLONG TEA can reduce our risk of cancer. Animal studies indicate that OOLONG TEA extract protects against both the initiation and promotion stages of cancer. Specifically, OOLONG TEA extract has been shown to prevent cancers of the lung, breast, prostate, liver, skin, and digestive tract.

An enzyme system in the liver, called P450, can contribute to cancer by producing carcinogens. Once again, OOLONG TEA's polyphenols come through with flying colors. Researchers at the University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western University found that OOLONG TEA extract inhibits this potential source of cancer-causing agents.

Extracts of OOLONG TEA also guard against toxins with carcinogenic activity, such as aflatoxin, salmonella typhimurium, coal tar, and others.

Other research indicates the following protective properties of OOLONG TEA extract:
* Fights the bacteria that leads to dental plaque;
* Protects against disease-causing microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract;
* Promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine;
* Exhibits possible anti-ulcer action; and
* Encourages anti-viral activity.

If drinking it isn't your cup of tea, local health food stores sell supplements with the benefits of Chinese OOLONG TEA in the convenience of a capsule.

Keli, S.O., et al. "Dietary Flavonoids, Antioxidant Vitamins, and Incidence of Stroke," Archives of Internal Medicine 154:637-642, 1996.
Miura, S., et al. "Effects of Various Natural Antioxidants on the Cu(2+)-Mediated Oxidative Modification of Low Density Lipoprotein," Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 18(1):1-4, January 1995.
Stoner, G.D., et al. "Polyphenols as Cancer Chemopreventive Agents," Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 22: 169-180, 1995.
COPYRIGHT 1996 PRIMEDIA Intertec, a PRIMEDIA Company. All Rights Reserved.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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